The Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
The Coffs Harbour Health Campus. The Coffs Coast Advocate

North Coast Area Health Service under threat

THE North Coast Area Health Service should be abandoned, Coffs Coast hospitals should be independently managed, and the bureaucrats need to relinquish control so the health system can work for the people, according to a new report.

University of NSW Professor of Economics, Wolfgang Kasper, has released a scathing report into the state of the NSW public hospital system, calling for the 'end of self-seeking bureaucrats running hospitals as a government department'.

“Over the past decade public spending on hospitals has gone up by 64 per cent, yet citizens have received little improvement in the quality of healthcare,” Prof. Kasper said.

“The situation requires dramatic and fundamental changes to hospital management.”

Prof. Kasper's report, Radical Surgery: the only cure for NSW hospitals, offers three reforms, including weaning hospitals off direct budget allocations by using patient and bed vouchers, abolishing area health services, and doing away with centralised planning by granting genuine autonomy to local boards.

“While cuts have been made in public bed numbers and frontline clinical staff, the proportion of departmental managers and area health staff has expanded by a stupefying 69 per cent between 2001 and 2006,” Prof. Kasper said.

“Typical of centrally administered systems, there has been insufficient reinvestment, leading to shortages, which require rationing, queuing and long waiting lists.

“The purpose of these reforms is to move the hospital system to independent, decentralised decision making.”

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser agrees with the report, calling the bureaucracy of the health service 'bloated'.

“I often hear complaints from medical staff that a bureaucratic position can be filled in six weeks, while an advertisement for medical staff can take up to six months to be placed,” Mr Fraser said.

“Granting autonomy to local boards means the bureaucrats will liaise with local staff more closely, to ensure services are appropriate to the local area.

“Where has this professor been hiding and why is no one listening to him?”

Prof. Kasper's report was released the same day the NSW government went begging to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for $2.5 billion to rebuild public hospitals across the state.

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